August 28, 2019 | ATLANTA
Fresh out of college, Yeo Jin Yun found a job at a for-profit agency. “Though there were daily victories and moments of joy,” the young woman recalled, she felt unfulfilled. After some soul-searching, she decided to check out the United Methodist Global Mission Fellows program.
Today, Yeo Jin is one of 13 Global Mission Fellows beginning two-year assignments in the United States. “I’m filled with an uncharacteristically high amount of confidence,” she said, “and a genuine excitement for what God has in store for me.”
The program takes young adults ages 20-30 out of their home environments and places them in new contexts for mission experience and service. Global Mission Fellows become active parts of their new local communities, connecting the church in mission across cultural and geographical boundaries.
Born in South Korea, Yeo Jin is a member of Grace-Bethel United Methodist Church, Leonia, New Jersey. She has two Bachelor of Arts degrees, the latter with a concentration in Asian studies, from Messiah College, Grantham, Pennsylvania.
“I believe God has led me to this exact place at this exact time,” she said. “Every second I was distracted by the things of the world, every moment I paused to linger at a comfortable spot, every excruciating step needed to climb the impossible mountain of fear and doubt, God has been with me. He’s guided each footstep, refocused my spirit and calmed every qualm.”
Yeo Jin will serve as the development communications coordinator for the Methodist Federation for Social Action in Detroit. “I understand that not everybody will ﬁnd their vocation, their call from God, to align with their career,” she added, “but when you can have them both, why would you ever say ‘no’?”
Also commissioned as a Global Mission Fellow was Andrew David Fleming. Andrew most recently lived in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where he is a member of Grand Avenue United Methodist Church. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Hendrix College, Conway, Arkansas.
As a teen, Andrew served on the conference youth council, planning and coordinating events. “I am realizing that as good as sharing my faith in service can be for those around me, growing in my own faith can do wonders in my own life,” he said. “After lots of conversations with my family and hours of personal reflection, I felt that I was being called into mission to serve as a Global Mission Fellow. Now I am answering that call.” Andrew’s placement is with Metropolitan Ministries in the Florida Annual Conference.
Joining Yeo Jin and Andrew as a Global Mission Fellow is Abigail Suzanne Reeth. From St. Paul, Minnesota, Abigail is a lifelong member of Park Avenue United Methodist Church, Minneapolis. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in writing and art from Houghton College in New York.
“My faith,” Abigail said, “has been especially influenced by my parents, who have shown me positive examples of Christian service, humility and thought. Growing up in a low-income, racially diverse, urban neighborhood and being raised in a multicultural church, I developed a heart for the people around me and came to appreciate their stories, struggles, beauty and strength.”
Her goal, she explained, is “to celebrate God’s marginalized children and to build community alongside them. I believe that when the Holy Spirit works, my art and writing can build bridges and be used for healing and renewal.”
As a Global Mission Fellow with Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa, Florida, Abigail will lead after-school activities for elementary students. “I hope to share my artistic and literary passions and skills with them to help stimulate imagination, express ideas and strengthen relationships,” she said.
“I hope to grow in my Christian walk by learning to see the Spirit at work all around me and through me, even in unexpected places. I hope to become more aware of the Spirit’s radical power, love and invitation to act. I hope to encourage others by sharing the work that God is already doing and to welcome others to join me in that work.”
The Global Mission Fellows on the US-2 track recently completed two weeks of training in preparation for their assignments. Their sessions included such topics as “Breaking the Bonds of Injustice” and “Exploring the United Methodist Social Principles.” Participants led devotions, shared call stories and took a field trip to Atlanta churches and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
The training concluded with a Service of Commissioning on Aug. 23 at Global Ministries in Atlanta. The US-2s join 50 Global Mission Fellows on the international track who were commissioned on July 28 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Bishop L. Jonathan Holston of the South Carolina Annual Conference preached and presided over the act of commissioning, a public affirmation made by the church to uphold the call of Christ to “make disciples of all nations.” He encouraged the young adults to “accept the challenge, accept the opportunity that God has given you and accept the possibilities that are waiting for you.”
The future will unfold for Yeo Jin, Andrew, Abigail and their peers as they live out the gospel in the communities they serve. The other Global Mission Fellows, along with their home conferences, US-2 placements and Advance numbers, include:
• Anthony Eugene Elkins, Arkansas Annual Conference, serving Metropolitan Ministries, Florida – Advance #3022512;
• Ebony Faith Jackson, Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church, Arkansas, Nome Community Center, Alaska – Advance #3022510;
• Roy Kibet Koech, Great Plains Conference, Kansas, Arch Street United Methodist Church, Pennsylvania – Advance #3022508;
• Benjamin James Lasley, Western North Carolina Conference, Arch Street United Methodist Church, Pennsylvania – Advance #3022520;
• Eithne Claire Leahy, Great Plains Conference, Nebraska, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Washington – Advance #3022518;
• Lauren Elizabeth Norton, North Georgia Conference, Nome Community Center, Alaska – Advance #3022515;
• Kathryn Anne Sappington, Mississippi Conference, First United Methodist Church, Michigan – Advance #3022516;
• Nathalie Valdez, Second Baptist Church, Arkansas, Metropolitan Ministries, Florida – Advance #3022519;
• Nathan Michael Whitford, Vineyard Columbus Church, Ohio, The NOAH Project, Michigan – Advance #3022511; and
• Samantha Ann Whitford, Vineyard Columbus Church, Ohio, Motown Mission/Redford Brightmoor Initiative, Michigan – Advance #3022509.
To learn more about the Global Mission Fellows program, apply to become a Global Mission Fellow or support a Fellow and their work, go to: https://archive.umcmission.org/Get-Involved/Generation-Transformation/Global-Mission-Fellows/Fellows
Barbara Dunlap-Berg is a freelance writer and editor.